Harvesting Christmas trees

Helicopters and their pilots make the job look easy. But the pilots have to be fast and they compete with other pilots’ times for their jobs.

In the Pacific Northwest, lots of helicopter pilots work in the timber industry. The pilot is usually on contract. There’s a guy on the ground timing every pick and drop. When they’re using a larger aircraft, they can run in the $3000-5000+/hr range. If a pilot is slower than the next guy by a few seconds, over a several-day job, that can mean you’re out of work. I worked with a bunch of pilots who couldn’t cut it doing the timber work (either burned out, didn’t have what it takes, or just didn’t like the intensity). You can tell right away which guys did a lot of long lining, and those who just sucked at it. And It’s not necessarily the safest job.

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